|Date: September 1, 2017
Event: 63rd annual NHRA U.S. Nationals (Round 18 of 24)
Series: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Location: Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
Provisional Top Qualifier: Leah Pritchett 1st (3.667 seconds at 329.50 mph)
U.S. Army Racing Lineup:Antron Brown 3rd (3.689 seconds at 329.75 mph)
Tony Schumacher 6th (3.735 seconds at 327.82 mph)
The U.S. Army duo of Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown opened the prestigious 63rd annual NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis by posting the sixth- and third-best qualifying runs, respectively.
The results guaranteed both drivers a slot in Monday’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series ladder and allows both the opportunity to turn their focus toward Saturday’s $100,000-to-win Traxxas Shootout.
Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), returned to Indianapolis as the defending champion of the both the U.S. Nationals and the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The 10-time U.S. Nationals Top Fuel champion posted a lap of 3.735 seconds at 327.82 mph in Friday night’s only qualifying session. “The Sarge” and his nine-man U.S. Army Racing team were looking for a bit more out of the run, but know they solved part of the weekend’s equation and have a great opportunity Saturday.
“We made it down the track tonight and qualified for Monday which is the most important result,” said Schumacher. “We have a big race tomorrow and then Sunday we can get back to trying to win this thing Monday. This isn’t our normal weekend where you can just go out Friday night and make a hero run for the pole. We know that we have a race tomorrow and that we had to get in the show. There’s a lot of activity here, where there are races within races. We know tonight’s run wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. We have a history-making opportunity tomorrow. It’s going to be a beautiful day to race. And in the kinds of conditions that we are going to see, we have an amazing U.S. Army car. We have incredibly smart people here led by (crew chief) Mike Green that will put their heads together and figure out exactly what adjustments this U.S. Army car needs in order to give us a chance to win.”
Brown continued his season-long mission of chasing race wins by laying down a strong qualifying pass aboard the Matco Tools/Mello Yello/U.S. Army Dragster for DSR to close out qualifying. The three-time and reigning NHRA Top Fuel world champion put a run of 3.689 seconds at 329.75 on the board to grab the third position and secure his spot in Monday’s 16-car “Big Go” field.
Both drivers have competed in the previous five Traxxas Nitro Shootouts since the event began in 2012. Schumacher won the event in 2014 and last season, while Brown came out victorious in 2015. Schumacher will begin his quest for a third victory Saturday afternoon by facing Brittany Force, while Brown opens with Terry McMillen. Both matchups will be part of qualifying session three for Top Fuel, which is slated to begin at 3:45 p.m. ET. If both drivers advance they would meet in a semifinal matchup between sessions two and three at approximately 5:15 p.m. The final of the $100,000 Traxxas Shootout will be contested after qualifying session three for Top Fuel is complete at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Two more qualifying sessions are scheduled for Sunday and eliminations begin Monday at 11 a.m.
The FOX network and FS1 will televise coverage of Sunday and Monday’s U.S. Nationals action, starting with qualifying Sunday on FS1 at noon and 5 p.m. EDT. The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations Monday starting at 11 a.m. and concluding on FOX at 1 p.m.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!